1. #26
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    While I agree that fire apparatus should be exempted, due to low operating hours, low lifetime mileage accumulation, and potential loss of life from equipment failure, I would have to point out that all legislation that I have ever seen that refers to fire apparatus or "authorized emergency vehicles" does not differentiate between custom or commercial cab, factory built or home built, etc. Most likely any exemptions available on customs would also be made available on commercials, if they wanted to keep selling fire trucks.

    Birken

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    It is hard to believe that International, Ford, GM, Freightliner and other big commercial chassis manufacturers would create a separate line for fire apparatus as it is such a small part of the overall production for them. The changes seem significant enouh that the main production lines would have to be separate? I'll bet none of them cares about the small percentage of business enough to go through with a special line.

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    They don't have to create a separate line, they just have to order and drop a different engine and exhaust system in the same existing chassis. This is the way they have always done it, they build what the customer orders. The changes are to engines and exhaust only. The worst that could happen is there would be an empty space on the chassis where some unused emissions gadget would have gone.

    Birken

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    I'm a bit amused by the trash truck/fire truck analogy. If one remembers correctly,not long ago in New York,all the heavy rescues,a few pumpers and the trash haulers all shared the same Mack MR chassis.Few things in the world are built to stand the rigorous enviornment of the refuse industry,fire operations included.Are there poorly specced commercial fire apparatus? Yes there are.But there is some pi** poor examples of customs out there as well.And in working around truck wrecks most of my life,I DO NOT see this clear cut demarcation between commercial and custom.Post crash results in either case are generally catagorised as a FUBARED "total"losses. I've got a chip hauler in the lot right now that went thru a 6"reinforced basement wall.The driver walked away.And this was a commercial truck.In this instance a custom wouldn't have faired any better.In a rollover they might but a lot of rollover survivability comes as a combination of cab and fire body.it used to be easy,do ya want a Ford,Chevy,or cornbaler.Today,the choices are many and the pricing between the two(custom/commercial)is getting closer to even. So spec well and wisely and you will have a safe unit that will give you many years of service. T.C.

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    marion makes a two door custom cab. kust a thought.
    if you dont think you can fit everything in a cammercail cab then buy an extended commercial cab, and replace the tight bench seat with cabinents, and the additional window with a full length roll up door. have a look at the recent post about elite--custom cab for cheap there.

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    i also forgot that you could put a custom cab on either a traditional engine forward or mack MR. we have an enclosed cab on our MR, and fort gary industries and pierce both make raised roof cabs on commercial chassis.

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    For the pupose of clarification maybe we need to differentiate between commercial, custom cabs and sole source custom cabs. I don't see how adding a roof extension to a Mack MR makes it a custom cab/chassis? Yes, its been customized, but so has my Tahoe!

    In my view a commerical cab/chassis is one that is a available to any type of dealer/manufacturer (not that they all will build on them) including trash trucks, cement mixers, etc. So in this case I view the Ford, Freightliners, Mack, GMC, etc as commercial.

    Custom cabs for the purposes we're discussing, in my view, are those made specifically for the fire service, but available for use by anyone who can or will build one them. HME and Spartan (are there others?).

    Lastly, the custom cab/chassis that are made by the fire apparatus manufacturer. Not the badged others, but those truly built by the same company. ALF, Ferrara, E-One, Peirce, KME, Crimson(?).

  8. #33
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    from the crimson web site it appears that they make the bodies only, and usually mount them on spartan. i refer to the MR as commercail. in addition i cannot tell if the marion two door is theirs or a spartan that was shortened. its called a predator.

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    Yes, Crimson does use Spartan Chassis. If you check the Crimson website further you will probably also read that Crimson is owned by Spartan.

  10. #35
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    as far as manueverablility, the custom,, all thing being equal will have a shorter wheelbase and thus a shorter turning radius

    OTOH, many of the new commercial trucks, especially marketed towards the fire industry, have the same 45 cramp angle as most custom units. It could be that a new commercial will turn as tightly as a 10-15 year old custom cab.

    Several years ago, while speccing our rescue engine, we noticed that some custom cab /fire specific builders were pushing the bigger is better theory, and so a couple "standard" cabs sold as 4 or 6 man cabs were basically the same size as an 8 man monstrosity. At this point, the length grows very close to a similar 4 door commercial cab.

    in skimming this thread, I have not noticed engine availability. If you want a large displacement, high horsepower engine you might not find it readily available in the commercial cab/chassis aimed at the fire market

    so if you think that you need a Series 60 Detroit to run your 2000 gpm/3000 gallon tandem super duper pumper tanker, it may be almost as cost effective to go with a custom as with a commercial. The commercial cab/chassis cost less than a custom cab/chassis because it is a high volume/cookie cutter truck. For a lot of departments, a crew cab commercial engine with a 330 hp Cummins ISC, or similar IH or Benz engine with a 1250 gpm pump/750 water will be plenty, and maybe a lot better than what it may be replacing. If you want a bigger engine - the cost goes up. The question is how much. This will vary both by manufacturer of the commercial cab/chassis and the fire service body builder/mounter. at this point, the commercial may be priced close to the custom so that you will go ahead and but the custom.

    Some of the Mack cab/chassis are an exception, but I haven't seen to many fire trucks recently built on a mack commercial cab/chassis

  11. #36
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    May be worth noting that some of the custom fire apparatus chassis are now pushing 50 degree cramp angles.

    Mack makes some obviously very durable chassis, however they don't make their chassis as "fire service" friendly, and from what I've gathered require a little more work on the part of the body builder than even most other commercial chassis makes. Not to mention they don't have a 4-door in the mix unless a builder grafts something on to a Mack cab. From what I've seen though, the Granite makes a great tanker chassis.

    So many variables influence the differences depending on what you buy for a custom chassis when comparing to a commercial. You could buy an HME SFO chassis and probably have comparable interior room to a commercial chassis, and and be MUCH shorter. You could go a little longer and have the extra seat that a six man custom cab medium four door will give you over a commercial cab. Go even longer and then you introduce storage options (EMS cabinet, compartments under a rear bench seat accessible from the exterior, compartments just behind the officer and engineer's seats) that really would add even more length to the body of a commercial chassis rig to get comparable storage space.

    I think once you go to the big dog motors in the commercial stuff, your net savings is still going to be what you see between say a Big Easy and a P2E to a comparable commercial. Just because you need to go to a Gladiator or Diamond, P2 or whatever to get the bigger motor doesn't mean you have to option the hell out of the cab and get all of the bells and whistles, though the 46 direction adjustable massaging SCBA seats I'm told are very nice.

    On a different thread here, but the MBE 900 (I believe that's the designation) in the Freightliners is available in 330 horse trim for fire service applications, much like the IH DT570 is, and the ISC, C7, etc... I know there's no substitute for displacement when making power, but there's also no substitute for inadequate funding either...

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    At this point Commercial vs Custom has almost been reduced to Conventional vs Cabover, beyond the layout of the cab there isn't alot of difference in the parts. Yes when it comes to safety there are trade offs and a Custom may be built a little tougher for roll overs, kind of like buying a Ford vs a Volvo, but if that is really why you are spec'ing out the custom then I hope you are shopping around the various custom builders to get the one with the most roll over protection but I'd guess few actually do that.

    Back in the day a Custom was exactly that custom, not just a cab design but different motor with redundancies built in (dual ignition etc), and other specific to the chassis parts. These days for the most part the components between the two are basically the same, just depends on which commercial truck builder the custom fabricator is connected to.

    A custom is nice but a commercial can get the job done. I'm seeing comments about how the commercial is designed to be thrown away after 5-7 years, simply not true we run our engines 15+ years, in some of the toughest fire service conditions you will find (off road, long pumping hours, lots of miles put on them, run hard all summer, parked most of the winter, many left outside) most could easily continue to be run for a few more years, window cranks, door handles, hinges etc are rarely an issue.

    Space in the cab was another issue brought up, we are running an International 4900 4 door cab with a 10" extension, there is plenty of room for the 3 firefighters in the back, more that many of the older (late 80's) customs I worked in, in fact it seems like a ball room compared to the E-One I worked on, I had to have my coat and scba put on as I entered the cab, I simply didn't have room to get my arms through the scba straps while sitting in the seat because of the dog house.

    As far as price goes maybe it is down to $30,000 but if your spending $250,000 - $300,000 on a new pumper, that $30,000 is alot of money, could be the difference between a stripped down custom and a well equipped commercial. Just some thoughts of what I could do with an extra $30,000, Class A foam or CAFS, Generator and lighting system, 4x4, TIC(s), upgraded powertrain systems etc. If you are buying several pieces of apparatus that quickly could be another vehicle.

    Customs are nice and have their place but commercial cabs are definately an option, particularly for rural areas where overall length may not be an issue. Even length doesn't really have to be a factor, if the body is designed well you can fit enough onto a short wheelbase, maybe not everything you want but at least everything you need.

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    Well I disagree somewhat, around here I consider a cabover to be essential because the area is rural and mountainous, therfore the roads are narrow and no room to turn around. But we are a structural fire department primarily so we need an engine with a cab that can haul 4 firefighters, a body that can carry a 14' and 24' ladder, and in order to get that on a reasonably sized truck chassis you have to get a compact custom cab and a body that has the ladders all the way up to the rear of the cab.

    That being said, out of my station I drive a Pierce Lance with the big long cab and a 35' ladder, and a 3 axle water tender that has to be 35' long all by itself. However with that water tender especially I seem to spend as much time driving backwards as I do driving forwards.

    Birken

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    My main point was that really it comes down to the motor in front of the wheels or behind them. If you need to have the absolute shortest wheelbase possible you want a cab over engine design. All the rest is basically personal preference and semanitics.

    Can you really tell me that a commercial cabover with a crew compartment added? (think USFS model 61 or CDF model 9) would not work nearly as well as a custom 4 "man" cab? The customs are nice if you can afford them but hardly the mandatory requirement some make them out to be.

    But I also wonder with so many that have the opinion that commercial cabs are substandard "trash haulers" and it is just a little bit more money, why don't we see more custom wildland rigs, they need a short wheelbase, they have a good chance to roll over, they need to carry lots of equipment but I would guess that not even 1% are built on a custom chassis. The argument that they are too small doesn't cut it for me, many were built on the Ford C-series and International Cargostar cabovers when they were available.

    Where are the custom command trucks, air/light units, rescues, tenders etc? There are some but the majority are built on commercial chassis. My guess is custom cabs are largely tradition, "real" pumpers and trucks are built on a custom but all those other rigs are ok on a commercial chassis.

    Not bashing Customs, they are nice and I'd usually take one if given the option, I'm just saying you can build a very good piece of apparatus on a commercial chassis.

  15. #40
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    I am anti-4 door commercial, they're too big with too much wasted space.
    I have seen 4 door customs shorter over all cab length than a 2 door commercial
    Here's a good example:
    Attached Images Attached Images  
    Service is the rent you pay for having space on earth.

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    Quote Originally Posted by NonSurfinCaFF
    But I also wonder with so many that have the opinion that commercial cabs are substandard "trash haulers" and it is just a little bit more money, why don't we see more custom wildland rigs, they need a short wheelbase, they have a good chance to roll over, they need to carry lots of equipment but I would guess that not even 1% are built on a custom chassis. The argument that they are too small doesn't cut it for me, many were built on the Ford C-series and International Cargostar cabovers when they were available.
    Well looking at the latest CDF acquisitions, I will predict that it is not far off until we see a cabover again. They have always been in the works with CDF but these new things are getting to be school-bus long with their International cabs and 4 doors. While I don't like the HME SFO the way it's built, its small size is a good concept and CDF has toyed with them a little. If they were to build their 24s and 25s on that instead they would have a winner.

    I think we are basically in between models right now, with the demise of the Ford C-series and the Mack Midliner there has been little to choose from. I don't think the MR suits that purpose very well though it would look cool

    Birken

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    For those of you following this thread, I urge you to look at the July 2006 of Firehouse and see the retort/reply by IH trucks to the article in May issue regarding cab safety of commercial rigs. Interesting stuff, worth the read. Page 16, by the way.

    I'm not saying that this changes my opinions about the issue, but I think anyone on the fence needs to see the letter to get the straight dope about IH's cab safety testing program.

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